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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Representatives Split Over Omnibus Spending Bill

U.S. Capitol
flickr user Tim Evanson (CC-BY-SA-2)
U.S. Capitol

Both of Montana’s senators voted against the omnibus federal spending bill that passed Congress today, but its lone congressman voted for it.

Republican Ryan Zinke said the budget bill contained, “good, bad and ugly” provisions, but that he “made a command decision for vote yes.”

Democratic Senator Jon Tester said the bill funds a lot of programs he favors, but :
"There’s also some crap in here, some garbage that should have been tossed out, but it wasn’t."

That includes what Tester says are unfunded tax breaks and corporate giveaways that will increase the federal debt by some $700 billion. Tester voted no on the budget bill, as did his Republican counterpart, Senator Steve Daines.

Daines says he likes what he calls “permanent tax relief provisions for Montana families, farmers, tribes and small businesses.” Daines is also glad that the bill ends the ban on exporting oil produced in the U.S.

One thing all three members of Montana’s delegation agreed on is their dislike for how the budget bill was put together rapidly at the last minute by just a handful of top leaders.

Senator Tester sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"While I joined in on some of the early negotiations,  I haven’t been in the smoke-filled room where McConnell and Reid and Ryan and Pelosi and the President have hatched the final plan behind closed doors."

Republican Senator Daines said “Washington’s inaction and govern-by-crisis strategy is getting in the way of providing the American people with the long-term solutions they deserve.”

Congressman Zinke said the House passed most provisions of the budget bill last summer, and blamed Democrats in the Senate for filibustering it into a last minute crisis.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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